Spring Has Sprung!

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Spring Has Sprung!

With Spring now well and truly under way and the weather warming up nicely now is the time for anglers to target the fish of the Spring and that is specimen carp and tench.

This month I'll let you in on 5 top tips and tricks to help catching those big fish.

Tip 1 - Bank gear

Most anglers worth there salt will have rods and reels suitable to deal with a hooked carp or tench but a lot still do not have the basic gear when it comes to landing specimen sized fish and especially dealing with the fish on the bank and need to be unhooked. Please make sure you have a big enough landing net. I always have two set up, one is a deep pan net on a long handle that is actually designed for barbel as the net I use for smaller species such as tench, bream and carp up to double figures. I then have my big 42" carp net set up as well just waiting for 'that' fish. Have a good padded unhooking mat and use it. Even experienced anglers can drop a good sized fish that is really wriggling but if you're using an unhooking mat it will be protected. Always have a set of forceps on hand in case the hook proves a little more tricky to remove.  

Little and Large - the two landing nets I have set up when targeting carp

Whenever I'm targeting specimen sized fish I have my large padded unhooking mat and weighsling waiting! (notice my forceps clipped to the corner of the mat)

Tip 2 - Location, Location, Location

As always in fishing location is perhaps the most important aspect of the whole thing, you cant catch the fish if they are not there.

Its always a bit of a problem on the park that for most resident anglers apart from the open access lakes available such as Canada, Bream and Perch Lakes the location of swims is limited by the location of your holiday home or touring caravan. Make sure that you fully explore the contours of your swim with a marker float or perhaps more hi-tech with an echo sounder such as the new 'Deeper Pro' castable sounder. The water clarity at the moment is extreme which means that in daylight particularly with bank side activity the fish will stay away out in the lake so you may need to cast a bit. Look for underwater features such as bars or silty areas, but don't totally ignore the margins especially if you intend to fish in darkness.

Get your location right and you to could catch a '30' like Andy Bray with this April Teal Lake mirror

Tip 3 - Put Some Bait In

With the weather really warming up now, especially with the great weather forecast for the Easter holidays now is the time that the carp and tench with get there heads down and that means putting in some bait. My spod mix is loosely the same for both species with a few tweeks for each. My mix is based on particles and pellets with my 50/50 hemp - pigeon conditioner mix as the basis, then a good helping of mixed size and varieties of pellets, sweetcorn and for tench several pints of dead maggots and for carp a good amount chopped boilies.

In either of the mixes I've mentioned I will dampen it all down with a good glug of hemp oil that doesn't thicken up even with the water temperature being lower than in the height of the summer. This gives off a good slick that I believe can pull fish down to my baited area.

Don't go mad 7 or so spombs full is enough to start with topping up as the session progresses. Follow the old adage - you can always put more in but you cant take it out!

The contents of my 'spod' bucket

Although I mention this mix as my 'spod' mix - for years now I have used a Spomb to get my bait out to the swim no matter how far out that is. To cast out a fully loaded spomb you will need proper gear. I use a 12' 6" distance spod rod, big pit reel loaded with 20lb braid and a heavy shock leader. A 'large' spomb fully loaded with mix weighs over 6oz so to cast this out more than 30 - 40m you do need 'proper' spodding gear.

My 'Spomb' gear to put out a good bed of bait (notice the yellow tapered shock leader)

Tip 4 - Carp Rigs

My carp fishing at this time of year revolves around three main rigs - one that I have explained a couple of times recently in my blogs and that is the solid PVA set up using an in-line lead, short braided hooklink and particularly a highly flavoured neutral buoyancy or 'wafter' boilie bait.

My completed rock solid PVA bag with the rig and bait inside ready to cast out 

The second rig is the now famous 'Ronnie Rig' that for those that haven't heard of it is a low pop-up using a large curved shank hook attached directly to a link swivel. Usually I will team this with a very stiff hook link of about 8"- 9" long, but this winter I have had great success using the 'Ronnie' with a soft braided hooklink in a solid PVA bag, it wiggles its way out of the bag and sits lovely on top of the small pile of pellets!

Although I like to put a bed of bait out I still find the odd fish by fishing 'singles' away from the baited area but not too far away.

The famous 'Ronnie (or Spinner) Rig

The third rig I use a lot at this time of the year is the 'Zig Rig' that I don't see many anglers using on the park but I have had great success 'Zigging' actually at any time of the year but particularly in the spring.

During the spring carp spend a lot of time up in the water layers particularly when the weather warms up. A typical scenario is during high pressure when the sun shines and the weather is nice, actually weather that's not usually very good for carp fishing. The idea is to anchor a buoyant bait either a pop-up or as I use a piece of coloured foam right in front of there faces. You need to work the depths and find out where they are swimming but the results can be worth the effort. I use yellow, red, white or my favourite black foam on Fox Zig Aligners. At this time of year If my swim is 7' deep I will set a zig up to fish initially at 4' and 5' and work up and down from there. If I see some fish activity near the surface I will lengthen my shorter rig to fish at 6' but keep working from there with depths and colours.

A yellow foam Zig Aligner on a 4' hooklink - you can just make out the lead on the ground below

A lovely Zig caught common taken on black foam fished 12" below the surface

Tip 5 - Tench Rigs

I love fishing for tench. Now I know they can be caught using a variety of methods but for me spring tenching means specimen style (buzzers etc) feeder fishing over a bed of particles and for this my number one rig is based on a helicopter rig as I find it casts beautifully and catches me loads of quality tench. I use a couple of variations depending on what bait I'm using and that bait will be red maggot and worms although I also try boilies and sweetcorn as well. If I'm using maggots on the hook I like to use a heavy blockend feeder to bait up tight in my swim. If I'm using worm I like to hair rig them on a speed spike and use an open ended or more usually a rocket feeder with groundbait.

My blockend helicopter feeder rig - especially good at distance

The same helicopter rig but used with a 'rocket feeder' and groundbait with hair rigged worm on a speed spike

A stunning Swan Lake tench taken at 40m on the worm rig above earlier this month

So there we are - just a few tips and tricks to help you catch some of the stunning carp and tench that live in Cosgrove Park's lakes.

A young Rob Swan catching a Canada Lake tench during one of my Introduction to Angling Courses

Just one final thing that is on a personal level involving a young man by the name of Rob Swan. Rob is a Northern lad who with his family first visited the park for a fortnights holiday 8 or 9 years ago and attended my 'Introduction to Angling' courses. He was clearly a keen lad and took in all I was telling him and caught lots of fish. Every year for about 6 years Rob and his family holidayed on the park and every year he turned up to my courses with a bit more gear and a bit more knowledge. The pictures I took of Rob above were of him catching tench on Canada Lake quite a few years ago. Now Rob Swan is all grown up and has developed into a top match angler winning numerous big open matches. He is now sponsored by Guru and Daiwa and only last weekend fished a qualifier for him to be picked to fish for England under 21's in Spain in September. You could say I'm rather proud that I played a small part in Robs success.

Rob Swan winning a recent big open match 

If you catch any nice fish during April please take a photo and forward them to the park either via the Facebook page or at Fishing@cosgrovepark.co.uk

Likewise if you have any comments please forward them via the same means.

Tightlines - Gary S


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Venetian Marina Whilton Caravan Storage Whilton Marina
Cosgrove Park. Main Street, Cosgrove, Milton Keynes, MK19 7JP.
Phone: 01908 563360 Fax: 01908 263615